Farm Progress

The poultry industry contends with a lot of misinformation about its practices.

March 27, 2012

2 Min Read

Hormones. Hormones. Cages! Change the words to the popular poultry-themed children's game, "Duck. Duck. Goose!," and you may get the attention of mothers. Why? Many mothers share similar food concerns and do not trust everything they find in the grocery store.

"There is a lot of misinformation out there about food - especially poultry. And I believe no one can answer your food questions better than the people who grow it," said Katie Olthoff, a turkey farmer from Stanhope, Iowa, and mother of two. "It really bothers me that there are so many concerned moms out there who struggle to make food decisions at the grocery store. I don't want them to be fearful of food. That's why I became a CommonGround volunteer."

CommonGround offers mothers and other consumers a connection to farm women and facts about food. In honor of National Poultry Day, CommonGround served up some of those facts.

Top Poultry Questions Posed to CommonGround Volunteers:

1. Why are chickens kept in small cages?
The modern cage system for hens has eliminated most diseases of the past, provided the hens with protection against the weather (environmental controlled housing) and predators, while also improving food safety, the environment (air and water), and animal welfare.
Source: United Egg Producers

2. Should I be concerned about hormones in chicken?
Federal regulations do not allow hormones to be used in the raising of chickens.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Food Safety and Inspection Service

3. What about about antibiotics in chicken?
United Egg Producers says relatively few antibiotics are permitted in egg laying chickens in the U.S. If antibiotics are used, a "withdrawal" period is required from the time antibiotics are administered before the bird can be slaughtered. This ensures that no residues are present in the bird's system. The Food Safety and Inspection Service randomly samples poultry at slaughter and tests for residues. Data from this monitoring program have shown a very low percentage of residue violations.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Food Safety and Inspection Service and United Egg Producers

4. Are family farms dying out?
Today, there are approximately 235 egg farmers with flocks of 75,000 hens or more. These farmers care for about 95 percent of the approximate 290 million laying hens in the United States. While these farms have grown to meet the market demand, they are still classified as "family farms" with the owner still being on the farm making day-to-day decisions."
Source: United Egg Producers

5. What is the price difference between cage-produced eggs and cage-free?
United Egg Producers found that in 2008 the average price for cage produced eggs was $1.36 versus $2.79 for cage-free and $3.71 for organic.
Source: United Egg Producers

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